In my experience in writing code on paper for a grade, the most helpful thing was to know the syntax of the language as best I could. Personally, I feel confident in my ability to write a problem solution in just about any language I'm familiar with, but I'm not always 100% certain of the syntax. I don't know about you, but I had several profs who seemed to be more interested in dinging me points for missing a semicolon than for correctly solving the question. There's no greater frustration than getting a paper back with a lower grade because you should have made your input parameter const, even though your algorithm is correct.
in reply to Meditations on the Nature of Code Exams
Isn't Matlab the software with the suspiciously Pascal-like syntax? If that's the one, my sympathies.
Negaterd character class uber alles!